CALISTOGA — Oklahoma driver Darryn Pittman won the opening night of the Wine Country Classic at Calistoga Speedway on Friday night with dominating speed for 24 laps and the luck of a lottery winner with the checkered flag in the air.
The former World of Outlaws national champion jumped into the lead from the pole and ran away from the field by as much a half a straightaway on the half-mile oval in the opening laps.
Pittman slowed in the closing stages as he wound his way through lapped traffic while Rutherford’s Rico Abreu, 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz of North Dakota, and Pennsylvania driver Logan Schuchart closed in on his rear bumper.
On the last lap, Pittman crossed the finish line with a right rear tire that was quickly deflating and that exploded into shreds as he coasted into Turn 1.
“I felt the tire chattering over the last three laps,” he said. “I couldn’t keep my RPMs up and I thought I’d better slow my pace and give myself some running room, and it was really hard to get through the lapped traffic.”
As Pittman claimed his eighth win of the year on the World of Outlaws tour, Schuchart won the duel for the runner-up spot and was just 0.133 second behind.
“I thought we were the fastest car on the track and I just needed one more lap,” said Schuchart, who had moved from fourth to second in the last two laps.
Schuchart made a diving pass underneath Abreu on the white flag lap.
“The car felt good all night long and I had a lot of speed at the beginning of the race,” said Abreu, who has been racing with the World of Outlaws most of the year.
Bakersfield’s Robby Sawyer won the companion 20-lap race for the All-Star Modified tour.